UK economy grew 0.4% in February as firms prepared for lockdown easing

There were signs trade between Britain and EU partially recovered after hit in January

A shopper inside a  London store after non-essential retailers reopened on Monday after almost 100 days of lockdown.  Photograph: Jason Alden/Bloomberg

A shopper inside a London store after non-essential retailers reopened on Monday after almost 100 days of lockdown. Photograph: Jason Alden/Bloomberg

 

Britain’s economy grew by 0.4 per cent in February from January as companies got ready for the lifting of a third coronavirus lockdown, official data showed on Tuesday.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected growth of 0.6 per cent. But the data also showed that the fall in gross domestic product in January was not as severe as previously estimated, down by 2.2 per cent compared with the initial reading of a 2.9 per cent drop.

There were signs that trade between Britain and the EU partially recovered in February after a hit in January, the first month of the new post-Brexit trade relationship.

The UK Office for National Statistics said the value of goods exports to the EU, excluding non-monetary gold and precious metals, rose by a monthly 47 per cent in February to £11.6 billion (€13.4bn), while goods imports excluding non-monetary gold were up 7 per cent.

Global goods exports were still 18 per cent lower than a year earlier.

Britain’s economy shrank by almost 10 per cent last year, its biggest slump in more than three centuries and a more severe fall than in most European economies as the country was battered by the coronavirus pandemic. However, a fast rollout of Covid-19 vaccines has raised the prospect of a bounce back this year and in 2022.

Non-essential shops and outdoor hospitality venues reopened on Monday, and British prime minister Boris Johnson hopes to relax most coronavirus restrictions before the end of June. – Reuters